SPOKANE, Wash --- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded more than $3 million to the Washington Department of Ecology to help protect human health and the environment.
The EPA is giving the WDE the money through a Nonpoint Source Program Clean Water Act grant, said an EPA news release.
The grant is given to states to implement environmental programs that address nonpoint source pollution in surface and groundwater, to meet and maintain water quality standards, said the EPA.
"Providing funds directly to Washington is an excellent example of EPA partnering with states to help address their unique and critical environmental challenges. EPA is making investments like this grant to help empower states who know best how to protect resources, and grow their economy while solving real environmental problems in local communities,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Under this year’s program, a total of nine proposals were selected for funding. These proposals are planned to be funded when Washington state’s legislature passes a new two-year capital budget for the 2017-2019 biennium. These funds provide the critical match for the federal grants, according to the EPA.
Nonpoint sources of pollution continue to be recognized as the nation’s largest remaining cause of surface water quality impairment. Nonpoint source pollutants, like pathogens, sediment and nutrients, cause the majority of damage to Washington’s lakes, rivers and streams. Nonpoint issues can also lead to warm water temperatures. Warm waters can make crucial streams uninhabitable by cold-loving aquatic species like salmon and other native fish, if left unattended, said the release.
Here are some of the places money will be spent
Stevens County: ($132,900 grant)
Projects aided by this funding will restore hundreds of acres of wetlands and repair riparian vegetation along a wetlands easement negotiated by USDA and NRCS on a 950-acre property in the Lower Spokane River watershed.
King County: ($170,025 grant)
Local restoration efforts in King County’s Stillwater Natural Area will get a boost from grant funds, as volunteers work to address high water temperatures in local streams that are proving lethal for salmon and other native fish. The project will replace invasive weeds with native plants within a riparian buffer over 12 acres and nearly a third of a mile of Snoqualmie River streambank.
Skagit County: ($249,795 grant)
The Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group will use EPA grant funds to plant 25 acres of riparian buffer along the Skagit River. They will also construct nearly a mile of livestock exclusion fencing at five sites along 303(d) listed streams, and along Skagit River side channels that are harmed by livestock grazing and lack of shade.
Nonpoint source pollution encompasses a wide range of sources that are not always subject to federal or state regulation. These sources include agricultural runoff, unpermitted urban runoff, abandoned mine drainage, failing onsite disposal systems, and pollution caused by changes to natural stream channels.